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Published: Monday, 7/15/2002

50-year Monroe educator was known for children's advocacy

MONROE - Mary Kay Kosa, who spent 50 years with the Monroe schools as a teacher, assistant principal, and principal, and served for more than 25 years on the Monroe Community Mental Health Authority Board, died Friday in Toledo Hospital. She was 73.

Mrs. Kosa, who also was a past president of the Michigan Education Association and a former chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Monroe, died from complications of asthma.

Mrs. Kosa, after teaching third and fourth grades for one year in Detroit, returned here to teach at the former Boyd School from 1951 to 1957, Christiancy School from 1957 to 1973 and 1975 to 1987, and Golden School from 1974 to 1975. She was assistant principal at Custer I and II from 1987 to 1997 and principal at Custer II and South Monroe Townsite Schools from 1997 until retiring in 2000 at the age of 71.

“Most women who were 50 wouldn't have been able to do that,” said Pauline Gonser, a friend and co-worker.

When Mrs. Kosa became a principal at Custer II, which housed kindergarten and first grade, she told Mrs. Gonser: “I don't know a cotton-picking thing about these little ones except they have runny noses.”

She had spent most of her time with older children.

“She was a total child advocate,” Mrs. Gonser said.

That's also how Mrs. Kosa thought of herself. “She would always say that she was a children's advocate; she was not our boss. She would say, `You didn't work for me, you worked with me,'” Mrs. Gonser said.

She was known to send a card to a college student with money in it, Mrs. Gonser said. In the card would be a note telling the student not to tell their parents, but she thought they could use some help.

Mrs. Kosa was born Nov. 12, 1928, and graduated from St. Mary Academy. She received a bachelor's degree from Marygrove College, Detroit, and a master's degree from the University of Michigan.

On April 5, 1959, she married Edward Kosa in St. Mary Catholic Church, where she was a member.

She was a past president of the Child and Family Services program of United Way, and the Monroe branch of the American Association of University Women.

Mrs. Kosa was on the board of directors of the Michigan Education Association, National Education Association, Monroe County Catholic Youth Organization, Monroe County United Way, Holiday Camp, and the Salvation Army.

She was a past chairwoman of the Monroe County Opportunity Program, Monroe County Mental Health Authority, and the Monroe County Housing Commission.

Also, she was a mentor for Court Appointed Special Advocates.

In 1974, she was appointed by former Gov. William G. Milliken to the Michigan Education Council.

Surviving are her husband, Edward, and brother, Lawrence “Butch” Maurer.

The body will be in the Rupp Funeral Home, Monroe, after 2 p.m. today. Services will be at 10 a.m. tomorrow in St. Mary Church, Monroe.

The family requests tributes to the Holiday Camp or Monroe Public Schools Scholarship Fund.

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